South Korea Approves Defector's Son's Visit To Pyongyang

Garett Kim, Nov. 21, 2017, 9:34 a.m.

The Unification Ministry on Monday approved a request by Choi In-guk to visit Pyongyang for a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the death of his mother, Ryu Mi-yong. Ryu was a chairwoman of the Chondoist Chongu Party, a quasi-religious utopian peasant movement that has co-existed in an uneasy alliance with the ruling Workers Party since World War II. Choi is to visit in a private capacity.

Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun told reporters, "The approval was granted from a humanitarian point of view so that he can pay respects at his mother's tomb on the first anniversary of her death."

Choi will arrive in Pyongyang on Wednesday by way of China and attend the ceremony on Thursday before returning home on Saturday. 

Ryu was the only daughter of Ryu Dong-yeol, who commanded reverence in the North as an independence fighter, and the wife of Choe Deok-sin, who was South Korean foreign minister during the Park Chung-hee administration.

Ryu and Choe fell out with Park and fled to the U.S. but defected to North Korea in 1986, where Choe headed the Chongdoist party and became a member of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

The party retains 22 seats in the rubber-stamp parliament but has no discernible policies of its own.

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